The Cocos Islands Mutiny

What was the Cocos Islands Mutiny?

During the Second World War, only three servicemen from British and Commonwealth forces were executed for mutiny. All three were participants in the Cocos Islands Mutiny, which took place in May 1942 on the small group of islands of that name in the Indian Ocean. Soldiers from what was then Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) were garrisoned on one of the Cocos Islands to defend a vital radio and telegraph station.


On the night of 8 May, a dozen of them, led by Bombardier Gratien Fernando, an advocate of Ceylonese independence from Britain, attempted to take control of the island and hand it over to the Japanese. The mutineers were thwarted when their Bren gun jammed at a crucial moment. Three men, including Fernando, were hanged at the Welikada Prison in Colombo, Ceylon in August 1942. 


Answered by: Nick Rennison